Lover Lover

I say I like honesty, I tell myself

I like honesty because

I keep making friends with lovers

with one-sided feelings

 

I know how those go, I am a girl

who lies on her bed in the daytime

earbuds in, staring into the middle-distance

watching a second life play out like

shadows on a sheet during a storm

 

I am a cautious person in life and

in imagination, knowing all too well

how the two fool around with one another

and at sixteen, how a thing between a boy

and me can turn my insides out

 

here I should admit, I am unlikely

and in all my state I attract people

who are all smiles and false impressions

who are my friends, my very best friends

until they admit otherwise

 

I can be bitter, even at my calmest

when I am told over the Internet

from age sixteen onwards, that I am loved

in a way I do not reciprocate

and that a relationship I thought

—dangerously—was equal, was not

 

I have lost too many people

to feelings felt, words unsaid for months

and months and months, amongst it all

I’m rarely spoken to in person

about feelings so personal

they ought to inspire intimacy

 

this is where I leave most, because

I haven’t been met with the chance

to share feelings, but instead have been stuck

receiving them, dealing with them

addressing them

 

if I am that girl for you, on the bed, daytime

through the blinds and eyes staring off

at something an arm’s length away

then you will know, because I will tell you

 

 

The Hole in the Pocket of My Bag

There’s a hole in the pocket of my bag that I suspect holds five pens, a stick of gum, and a lost fortune.

Sometimes I poke my hand through the tear in the fabric, prying out lost treasures: an old spray bottle of lens cleaner, a hair tie, a loose gem from the Pirate Princess of Thaw’s tiara.

When I reach in, blind, I fear I might lose my fingers to a rattle snake or a wild boar. I suspect one day I’ll feel the bite, see the blood, and never know who or what the inflictor was. It has scurried into a fold or a crevice, never to be seen or named. Sort of like Schrödinger’s Cat. Sort of not like Schrödinger’s Cat.

Also, there are futures that I imagine—rife with drama, a gun pointed to my head—where I’m asked to produce something ordinarily impossible: a trombone, an entire mango flavoured ice cream cake, a particle travelling two times faster than the speed of light. And in those futures I poke around the hole in the pocket of my bag…And the impossibilities are there!

A lifesaving antidote, a perfect pair of prescription glasses, the soundtrack to Mission: Impossible, an umbrella, a toaster, a Thin Mint, Unified Field Theory written on a napkin, Mary Poppins herself!

I could sew the hole shut, trapping the possible impossibilities inside. I could keep all the items in my inventory found and not lost. But where’s the fun in that?

Nothing ever truly feels lost anymore. Not even the imaginary. More-likely-than-not, it has slipped through the hole in the pocket of my bag. If I feel around and don’t come across it, it just doesn’t want to be found yet.

I Misheard You

For a long time I misunderstood the chorus of David Bowie’s song Changes – I misheard the lyric “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)” for “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strain)” and went on singing and dancing to it in my bedroom at 1AM, fully dressed and fully awake. And I LOVED that misheard lyric – it was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, wading through mud to get to a better version of myself.

I noticed my mistake after Bowie died, when I pulled my headphones over my ears and listened to the song at full blast. I heard the “ge” and had a little pity party for my belated understanding. There was physicality to that lyric that I mourned when I learnt it wasn’t the right one. According to Google strain means “to force (a part of one’s body or oneself) to make an unusually great effort” – that’s the type of motivation my masochistic, overworked brain likes to hear!

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Public Property (or How to be Invisible)

Yesterday I walked down the street

and you asked me for my number

and I felt like I was living

for someone else

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl:

Minnie Goetze says

So maybe nobody loves me, and she dances

alone in her room. I watch myself

 

from my bedroom ceiling

Are you living for someone else?

I don’t know what’s for you

and what’s for them

 

The Diary of a Teenage Girl:

she says

Maybe nobody will ever love me, and she doesn’t

care. People keep stopping me in the street

 

and asking me questions

They keep seeing me

and it hurts. I want to imagine I belong

to myself. I am who I think I am

 

Ghost Boy

There was one figurine left, sitting in the far corner of my Grandma’s glass cabinet. A porcelain ballerina tying her shoes, looking demure as she crisscrossed the ribbons across her ankle. I had to get on my tiptoes to reach it, and as the shelf dug into my chest all I could smell was dust.

“Um…Liss?” Maggie called. She was standing right above my head – I could hear her small, sensible shoes shuffling around the attic floor. I grabbed the ballerina by her head.

“What!”

Sliding the glass cabinet closed, I caught my muted reflection in the mirror and saw the bags under my eyes before anything else. I pushed my fringe from my forehead.

“What!”

“Can you come up here?” Maggie said.

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CHECKLIST:

CHECKLIST:

Book x1 (The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury)

“Chicago’s got more alleys than…anywhere else in the world.”

“Why are we running?”

Charlie’s orange hair tumbled behind her, and I followed it. We flashed past closed garage doors and roller bins, weaving between groups of kids playing in the lane.

“Elena?” one of them shouted at me. I caught a glimpse of more red hair – Charlie’s little brother stopped bouncing his tennis ball to stare at us. The storm clouds overhead roiled with the promise of rain.

“We’ll be back for dinner!” I yelled. The cold air stung the back of my throat as I breathed in.

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Harry Potter and the Battle of Diversity

When I need to get fired up I watch slam poetry – it’s the closest thing to a bar fight I’ll experience. On what was probably a Sunday afternoon I watched a slam poem by Rachel Rostad titled To J.K Rowling, From Cho Chang. She spat memorised lines to the audience full of wit and badassery – ‘Between me, Dean, and the Indian twins, Hogwarts has like five brown people!’

As a white girl I have the unearned privilege of being able to find myself in the culture I exist within. There’s no lack of representation when it comes to my skin colour – in film, TV, books, or Hogwarts. But that’s why there’s a flaw in me pretending that Hermione (as she’s traditionally presented) does leaps and bounds for intersectional feminism, or that the sideline existence of Cho Chang makes the series as accessible to Asian girls as it is to white girls.

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